A Small Celebration

Last week, I got to experience my own personal Spring Break in Memphis.  I drove south, spent time in 70 degree weather, and soaked up time with my best friend, Chels.  We spent time in a park, watched lots of March Madness, and made a pizza.

The pizza making experience was meaningful for several reasons:

1. We wanted to make a pizza together over Christmas break and that didn’t happen.

2. I’m on a pretty crazy diet right now, so we made the crust out of cauliflower and our own sauce without all the added sugar.  She also discovered that dairy free cheese exists at Whole Foods!

3. Chels researched how I could still eat pizza, and texted me updates before I got to Memphis about how she combined many different recipes.

4. I have an auto-immune disease and Chels has cancer.  We both have such limited energy, so making a pizza was our big event of the day, even our week.

And yet, even this “big event of the week” wasn’t glamorous.  It was very everyday and mundane.  Making the pizza took a long time and I was hungry and grumpy, trying to enjoy the process, even though all I kept seeing was more and more dishes and less and less energy.

IMG_0221

But we did it!  And as we sat down to watch our beloved Wisconsin Badgers’ debut game in the tournament, I just looked at my friend and was thankful.  I have a friend who encourages me to be faithful in the mundane, by her sheer existence, and how she fights for her very life. And I’m doubly blessed because she looks at me, and sees someone who is brave, rather than someone who has a “less severe illness.”  Our friendship is marked by good/hard conversations, park walks, basketball games, lingering meals, goofy texts, repeated “classic” questions, and our love of T-shirts and sweatpants.

Our friendship has been cultivated in the slowness, in our rest.  Even as long hours of rest are a necessity and we mourn, for we are still in our 20’s and desire to be healthy and vibrant.  But a really strong love has been built.

Do we wish our lives were different?  Yes, absolutely.

Would we sacrifice our friendship to be someone different? No.

We’ve learned to grieve and do the difficult every day together, and 7 hours apart.

And we’ve learned to be glad in the small pizza celebrations.

What are you celebrating with friends right now?  

For Every Season

Ecclesiastes 3

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what has been planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

 

A time to break down.  That’s my current season, even as the building up finds its way in, every time like a surprise.

Sifting through layers of my life has allowed me to see the core of my identity, years of running, and misplaced affections.  Lingering in this season is scary, but it’s necessary.  Breaking down can feel like failure or giving up, but in reality it wipes away the facade.  And the scarier part comes in letting people see the breakdown and in learning to explain how you are changing and why.  Some people have been disappointed, yet others have come alongside and slowly commence the build-up process.

Which seasons define your life currently?  How do you feel being in that particular season?  Who is coming alongside you?

 

Self-Esteem, Aldi & Avacados

It’s amazing how human it is to put people in categories or to make quick assumptions, rather than wonder about their story.  I do this-you do this-it’s human.  A simple way I regularly experience labels sounds like this: “the girl on the Paleo diet,” “the healthy girl,” or “the girl who eats a salad for lunch.”

Sometimes I laugh.  For so long, I was “the girl who ate whatever she wanted because she was a runner.”  Frosting and graham crackers was the favored snack I would eat after my track meet was over.  I have a ravenous sweet tooth, that I’ve had to work on in the course of changing my diet.  In the past, I would not have been called “healthy” because of my eating habits, but instead because I ran.

IMG_0214

And now, it’s quite the opposite.  This picture displays what I bought in the check out line at Aldi a few weeks ago.  The grocery list was: 3 bags of whole almonds, 3 avocados, celery, green peppers,  carrots, Roma tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli and olive oil.  The remark from the lady behind me was “Well, aren’t you healthy?  I wish I had discipline for that.”  In another previous Aldi shopping experience, a lady was actively recruiting me to be her nutritionist and quickly inform her about “healthy versions” of foods.

My current diet consists of: meats (minus some), veggies (minus potatoes-insert sad face), nuts (minus some), chicken broth, fermented vegetables, and grapefruit.  A not as restrictive diet with lots of meat and veggies and very few carbs and sugars is called the Paleo diet.  So sometimes I’m the “Paleo girl.”

Yet underneath all the small-talk and banter at the grocery store, I am forced to lament.  I am not healthy, but sick.  I buy groceries like I do, because I have to depend on the food I eat to help me get better.  But people think I look fine and assumptions are made.  I daily navigate letting people assume but also looking for proper situations to be honest and inform.

In those interactions, though I am forced to see myself.

Do I go about my daily life, observing and wondering without critiquing, or making assumptions so I feel better about myself?  

Do I wonder about “why” with compassion, admitting that I don’t know what it’s like to live with another person’s particular hardship or setback? 

Culturally, dieting is trendy.  And the assumptions made about me sting because I actually don’t want to be put up on a platform for my disciplined eating habits.  And I often don’t want to hear that “I’m fine just the way I am” or “Honey, you don’t need to lose any weight.” My self-esteem is rolled along the conveyor belt with my avocados.

And in the grocery store, my mind jumps back to a scene four years prior.  I was at a routine doctor’s appointment in Chicago checking my thyroid levels.  I explained that my fatigue level was high, and that I got more fatigued by exercising. My doctor then launched into a monologue, expressing that I was more fatigued because I gained two pounds and I should be exercising 6 times a week instead of 5.  It was my fault.

I wasn’t the magical formula girl.  I couldn’t just make my fatigue go away by random gluten-free diets, being really structured, or working out.  Yet because I have to make tenacious (or random trial and error) decisions about my health, incorrect assumptions will always be made at some level.

But I hope, that along with me, you want to be known.  In spite of the incorrect assumptions made about you .  Simply because you think that knowing and being known is worth the risk.

Come and Rest Awhile

Eighteen months ago, I faced a crisis.  Exhausted and scared, I felt trapped in my job, knowing that I couldn’t fulfill my expectations.  The only life I knew was a busy one-and I thrived living that way.  I was good at keeping up with long distance friends, being involved in many things, and people often encouraged me for my intentionality and my ability to balance all my activities. Yet, I was facing the fact that I couldn’t “do it all” anymore.  Fatigue had gotten to be too much, and I needed to say no.

But I was terrified.  Quitting my job?  This was not the kind of decision that Alyssa Storrs made.  But I did.

What I did not know at the time, was that I was scared to rest.  Scared to know who I really was without the busyness.  

Rest is an invitation, but for so long I viewed rest as an inhibitor.  I longed to not miss out on life, so I despised my brokenness and my weary body.  I grew jealous of all the 24 year olds who get to live a healthy, energetic life.  There is a place to grieve my fatigue-and I still grieve it every day.  I cannot escape what I am unable to do.  It took time to realize that I needed to rest, and I needed to learn to enjoy it as much as I could.

Rest is an invitation, but rest is hard.  Especially if a restful lifestyle is the goal, and not just “coming up for air” every few months, gasping for breath because life is relentless adrenaline.  I realize in this discussion that all of us are called to different amounts of activity and of rest, and that a conversation on rest still could be stomping grounds for comparison.  Yet, if we’re honest, saying no and being honest about what we need is hard.

Some things that replenish me are easy to do and I naturally enjoy them.  Sometimes restful things are still hard work because I am not naturally drawn to them.  Restful or healthy things for me to incorporate into my life include: cooking, yoga, reading, walking, writing, time with people one-on-one or in small groups.  My list includes more than this, but this activities are regularly incorporated several times into my week.  They are my healthy ‘weekly rhythms.’  I’ve had to work harder to incorporate cooking and yoga.  My diet has changed so much in the past year, so I need to re-learn how to grocery shop and give myself more time to make meals.  Since I used to run regularly and am naturally drawn to cardio workouts , I didn’t like yoga at first.  Since it’s harder for me to stay motivated doing yoga regularly, I try to go to a group class once a week.

IMG_0134

On a restful Indy downtown walk this winter

Rest is an invitation to know yourself better.  I’ve had to struggle and grieve in rest’s free space.  I’ve learned to celebrate small victories, even if the victory is “I’m less frustrated.” I’ve reflected and seen how my busyness has hurt people, and when I do not take time to reflect I do not see my sin clearly.  Through resting, I have a deeper commitment to learn and grow, even if it’s in the smallest of ways.  In rest and adding margin to my life, I have an added flexibility to rearrange plans.  I take myself and my plans less seriously.  Rest allows deeper enjoyment in life-whether rest is being outside, watching a show, or eating a meal more slowly with friends.

Christ offers the invitation of rest.  He welcomes those who are weary.  He does not despise us.  For feeling burdened and tired is a human condition.  And He loves us as human, so we don’t have to strive to be superhuman.  Rest and be bored.  Rest and enjoy.  Rest and realize who you are.  In the moments of margin, we encounter the One who calls us to rest. 

How do you define yourself in your rest?  How do you think Christ views you in your rest?  What  rhythms of rest would you like to incorporate weekly?